View Full Version : First Attempt

Ahnko Honu
01-30-2018, 01:55 PM
I have always wanted to try and build a cigar box ʻukulele but I let the difficulty of finding a decent cigar box locally combined with distractions of life detour me away from my goal. I recently sold the home I grew up in since 1966. I moved back into that house after my parents passing 10 year earlier. This home had years of accumulation of interesting knickknacks of my parents life including 21 years in Japan. When clearing the house I discovered an old wooden sakē (rice wine) box with lovely old kanji script on the lid. The sides Iʻm guessing are cedar about 6mm thick and finger jointed in the corners. The top and bottom are made from a extremely thin laminate. Iʻm making this more for sentimental reasons than pure sound quality so the thin (ala Kiwaya) laminate soundboard will be fine.
To you experienced cigar box luthiers out there - should I reinforce the end of box where the neck attaches? Do I need to add bracing on the soundboard even if soundboard is laminate? I want to preserve all the kanji scrip on the lid/soundboard so do you think I can get away with cutting sound holes in the side instead of the top? Do I glue the fret board before or after attaching the neck to the body? Can you direct me to good cigar box website or YouTube video youʻd recommend? I found all the parts needed - tenor neck & fret board, geared tuners, bridge, nut & saddle, SS corner guards, etc. all for about $20 including shipping on eBay.

Mahalo Nui.

01-30-2018, 02:31 PM
Here is something I did.


Sure you can put the sound hole in the side, just have to call it a sound port and charge more money. Fore sure reinforce the neck area. You can glue on the fretboard before or after.


Don't put the bridge at the end of the box, the farther away you go from the center the the thinner the sound.

Uke Don
01-30-2018, 02:46 PM
They have a whole "how to" for cigar boxes in their site https://www.cbgitty.com/.

01-31-2018, 07:25 AM
With 6mm thick sides you probably don't need any reinforcement for the neck. Hard to be sure without seeing the box though.
I think I would screw the neck to the body. Then glue on the top, then add the fingerboard. You probably need some bracing on the top. A couple finger braces should do it....but it's hard to be sure without seeing it.

Ahnko Honu
01-31-2018, 10:39 AM
Aloha guys, mahalo for all your helpful suggestions. I'll try and take a picture of the box, and post it.